Friday, May 8, 2015


Omar Khadr in 2014. The former Guantanamo Bay detainee has been granted bail.

With a last-minute legal manoeuvre, the federal government will try to prevent the release of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr on bail on Tuesday in an Edmonton courtroom.
Federal lawyers have signalled to Khadr's defence team that they will seek a rushed hearing with the Alberta Court of Appeal on Tuesday morning, just hours ahead of an afternoon hearing that was scheduled to set conditions on Khadr's release on bail.
"The federal government is defying legal tradition" by heading directly to the appeal court and proceeding without providing the generally accepted practice of 10 days' notice, Khadr's lawyer, Dennis Edney, told the Edmonton Journal.
The anticipated federal action is aimed at keeping Khadr, 28, in prison until appeal courts have heard the federal challenge of the Alberta decision granting him bail while his convictions are appealed in U.S. courts.
"The Harper government is not interested in the rule of law," Edney told The Canadian Press. "It refuses to listen to what the courts have said about Omar Khadr's rights. It continues to spend millions of taxpayers dollars only to lose time and time again."
On April 24, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice June Ross granted Khadr bail, noting he is deemed a model prisoner, not a threat to public safety and his appeal has a strong chance of success in U.S. courts, which have overturned similar cases.
Toronto-born Khadr was picked up at age 15 on an Afghan battlefield, and was later convicted in a plea bargain of five crimes, including killing an American soldier in a firefight. He became a symbol in a 13-year struggle over the rule of law, security and terrorism and flawed justice of the Guantanamo military commissions.
Edney also revealed for the first time that despite his young age when imprisoned, Khadr underwent the controversial torture of waterboarding or simulated drowning during his time in the U.S military prison in Guantanamo Bay. He also underwent three weeks of intense sleep deprivation, before Canadian officials interrogated him.
Khadr reported several abuses, including sleep deprivation, stress positions and being hung by his arms for extended periods of time, Edney said.
Khadr, now being held in Bowden medium security prison, is about half way through the eight-year sentence established in a 2010 plea bargain.
Corrections Canada recently reclassified him as a minimum security prisoner. He is eligible for a parole hearing in June.
Khadr is appealing his convictions in the U.S. on the basis that they were not written into law until years after the events happened. In legal principle, new laws cannot be applied retroactively.
Under his court-approved bail-release plan, Khadr would live with the Edneys in Edmonton, finish high school and take courses at King's University. Khadr also says he will keep in touch with his controversial Toronto family via Skype.
Edney is eager to see his client enjoying his freedom.
"I'm just thinking how he wants to ride a bike, go swimming, ordinary things in life," he said.

National Post

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